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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Winter Is Here, Let's Have Some Baroque Please

Autumn in London, October 2011

How the seasons affect my moods and musical inclinations

I will tell you a story, a true story.

As a young teenager I would spend my holidays in Valencia. One day I went with my uncle to the bull ring. It was the height of summer, and very hot, even at 11pm. I was there to see not a bull fight but a Flamenco song concert, a far cry from the theatrical extravaganzas of today. A series of singers, each with a different guitarist, sang their hearts out in thrilling improvisations. From their dark voices cascades of notes cracked through the still night air, and took my breath away. Hot summer nights were designed for Flamenco with the smell of jasmine, and ever since both have reminded me of that unforgettable evening.

I have noticed that all the seasons, not just summer, affect my mood and musical inclinations. Spring's regeneration encourages me to explore an artistic renewal, by learning modern and contemporary works.

Winter is a time for reflection, and more than any other season evokes the yearly cycle. Winter is ancient; its colours are white and blue. Coats, scarves, hats and gloves are as thick as the contrapuntal textures of Baroque music.

Autumn is the season for change and uncertainty. How long will summer hold out, and when will winter strike its first blow? I associate autumn with the beginning of academic terms, so it is often a time for planning and preparing music of diverse styles.

Here is a short-list of my ideal guitar music for each season, both for listening and learning:

Spring/rebirth =
Takemitsu: Towards The Sea and In The Woods
Ginastera: Sonata Opus 47
Brouwer: Elogio de la Danza

Albéniz: Suite Española
Granados: Spanish Dances
Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez

Villa-Lobos: Preludes
Llobet: Catalan Folk Songs
Barrios: La Catedral and Mazurka Appassionata

Bach: Suites
Dowland: Lute Fantasies
Falla: Homenaje: Le Tombeau de Claude Debussy

The seasons themselves have been the trigger for some inspired compositions. Foremost is Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Stravinsky used the idea of spring as a violent symbol of musical revolution. For Delius, Debussy and Milhaud the seasons produced quieter moments of beautiful soundscapes. Could it be that if we became more aware of our moods with each change of season we might learn some music more enthusiastically and effectively? Maybe, maybe not, but of one thing I am sure, I will always remember the effect of that night in the Valencian bull ring, for in my next life I might even have a go myself at Flamenco singing – in the summer time, of course.

Listen to:
Debussy: Soirée dans Grenade (for piano)
Delius: On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring (tone poem for orchestra)
Delius: Summer Night on the River (tone poem for orchestra)
Gershwin: Summertime (song from the opera Porgy and Bess)
Kosma/Prévert: Autumn Leaves (French popular song)
Milhaud: Les Quatre Saisons (for orchestral ensemble)
Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (for New Tango band)
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (music for ballet)
Vivaldi: Four Seasons (four concertos for violin, strings and basso continuo)

December 2011

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=870 .
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